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Unilever submits counter-affidavit on raps over Pasay concert deaths

MANILA — Officials of Unilever Philippines on Friday submitted their counter-affidavits before the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for criminal negligence and violation of the Corporation Code in connection of the Closeup Forever Summer concert in Pasay City on May 21,2016 where five people died.
The respondents did not appear at Friday's hearing but were represented by lawyer Atty. George Aquino.
Aquino submitted the counter affidavits to DoJ Associate Prosecution Attorney Anna Noreen Devanadera, who handles the complaint filed by the NBI.
"We filed our counter affidavits where we informed the prosecutor and all the other parties as to what we believed is the error in their complaint, we just highlighted Unliver is an organization, its reputation speaks for itself, and it takes due diligence in all of its affairs," Aquino told reporters after the hearing.
"So, we just wanted to highlight that to the prosecutor to shed light on what really happened in that unfortunate event last year. In other words, we just wanted to highlight it's unfortunate the families of those who passed away but maybe in an effort to rectify the error they might be misguided for going after the wrong parties," he added.
The NBI filed charges of criminal negligence and violation of the Corporation Code before the DOJ against Rohit Jawa, Unilever Philippines Chairman and CEO and currently the Executive Vice President for Operations South East Asia, Jesus M. Canlapan, Unilever Philippines Manager for Workplace Services and Facility Security, Alberto Curnelius Trinidad, Unilever's Marketing Director for Close-Up, Joy Dalanon-Ocampo, Country Manager for Safety, Health and Environment; Procurement manager Melissa Alcayaga; Close-Up Assistant Brand Manager Bea Lagdameo.
Also charged with the same offense are Michelle Suzanne Claire Quintana, Anna Kristina Doctolero, Baby Majalia Ahamadul, senior accounts manager of Activation Advertising Inc., Reginald Soriano, Eduardo Muego, John Paul Demontano, the owner and President of HypeHouse Production Corporation and Alexis Engelberto Aragon, owner of Delirium Manpower Services.
Aquino said that they were trying to affix blame to the organization simply because its name was in the event and the event was unfortunate, the incidents there that caused the unfortunate event of death but to file a criminal case against certain individuals is another thing altogether its like saying that person killed the victims.
Asked who should be blame, Aquino said "sorry to say that's what happened, we are not saying that what we are saying precisely in an effort perhaps to make sense of what happened to them to the families unfortunately that's precisely, it they are looking for someone to blame."
He noted that as counsel for Unilever is to highlight with due respect its erroneous to go after an organization and they went after certain officers in the organization simply because they are officers without any relation to the event.
"Obviously we disagree with the NBI's conclusions but what we want to highlight really is if you could see their complaint they did not even explained why that is their conclusion," he added.
For his part, lawyer Ariel Radovan, counsel of the families of victims Ariel Leal and Bianca Fontejon, said the NBI made an exhaustive investigation of the case that was why it took quite a time to finish the investigation.
Rodovan said that whatever doctrines of Unilever counsel that they were invoking was still to be studied and determined by the prosecuting office of the DoJ.
"On the part of the complainants and the NBI we are just to prove one thing that through negligence, through lack of skill, lack of foresight and precaution that led to the death of the decedents because of drugs that happened inside the concert malalaman natin yan pag natuloy na ang hearing sa korte kung ano ang doktrina na katanggap-tanggap ," he said adding that our duty as private prosecutors in tandem with the NBI and with the DoJ is to prove only probable cause.
Devanadera set next hearing of the case on April 24.
Earlier, the NBI said the Unilever executives and the organizers of the rave party also failed to consider several factors despite their assurance of a security master plan and 'code red scenarios" adding that they failed to take into account the entry of illegal drugs in the concert venue and that only bomb sniffing dogs were deployed when they should also have positioned drug sniffing dogs in the area.
Likewise, the NBI said there was no coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to ensure that no illegal drugs would be able to enter the venue.
No simulation exercise was also held with the police.
Based on the autopsy and toxicological examination conducted on the victims, authorities said they tested positive for a designer drug known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA methylene homolog and methylenedixy cathinone.
"The proximate cause of the death …is attributable to the inexcusable lack of foresight in failing to perform an act anticipatory that illegal drugs is so prevalent in a rave party to the effect that given the highest educational and scholastic attainment, professional achievement and degree of occupation as well as their intelligence the event's master security and safety plan is silent and muted about illegal drug aggravated by the fact that those called upon to enforce said plan like the 300 bouncers lack the skill, expertise and experience to discriminate against said pernicious drugs," the complaint said.
The NBI also noted that the number of bouncers was inadequate to secure the event with a crowd of 16,761.
The NBI also said the event organizers also failed to consider the deployment of drug sniffing dogs, the conduct of simulation exercise with the police.
A report from Pasay City police stated that four casualties — namely Bianca Fontejon, 18; American national Eric Anthony Miller, 33; Ariel Leal, 22; and Lance Garcia, 36, were found unconscious while the concert was ongoing at the SM Mall of Asia. All four were brought to a hospital but died shortly thereafter.
The fifth casualty, Ken Migawa, 18, who was also found unconscious, was later brought to a hospital in critical condition and passed away last May 22. The five fatalities were not acquainted with each other. (PNA)
Iyaz Kamias
Maja Limuyak
Valeen Kinitan

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Last Modified: 2017-Sep-19 23.31.24 UTC+0800